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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Stetson Kennedy, May 11, 1990. Interview A-0354. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Continued need for racial justice in the South

Kennedy's goal was "total equality," he recalls, and he continues to believe that despite the dismantling of segregation, ghettoization of African Americans persists.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Stetson Kennedy, May 11, 1990. Interview A-0354. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JOHN EGERTON:
In other words, you could say that the objectives that you saw you were pursuing in 1940, '41, '42, '45, were as clear to you then as they are now?
STETSON KENNEDY:
Possibly clearer [laughter] .
JOHN EGERTON:
You think so?
STETSON KENNEDY:
Yeah. What were those major objectives? In the matter of race, my chapter in Southern Exposure was total equality and how to get it. Pearl Buck's magazine, Common Ground, which Margaret Anderson edited, republished that, together with a similar piece by Lillian Smith, who, of course, we Floridians, its past time we claimed her, because she was born in Florida, not Georgia. So we two Floridians were among the few white voices taking that absolutist, total equality stand, and I can't imagine or conceive of any reason for modifying a stand like that.
JOHN EGERTON:
I guess what I was referring to though was, if you were trying to chart a strategy now, you wouldn't say that there was a place for both an SRC gradualist approach and a Southern Conference. . . .
STETSON KENNEDY:
No, in terms of strategy as to what remains ahead, as times have changed, and no doubt call for different strategies and tactics. But the goal is constant. I've been saying that where we once had segregated racism, we now have desegregated racism, in terms of then and now. By the same token, we may no longer be Jim Crowed, but we're approximately as black ghettoed as we ever were. And in any number of other areas, a similar measure of progress and non-progress. Those remaining problems certainly call for some urgent and intensive action in my opinion.